The Root of the Behavior
There are many reasons why dogs are so drawn to squeaky toys. One theory suggests that since domesticated dogs trace their roots to the ancient wolf that their instincts are drawn from their "wild" origins. Wolves would tune their ears for the sounds of potential prey, and those sounds may have closely resembled the noises that are emitted from various types of squeaky toys. Since wolves were responsible for hunting their own food, the survival instinct and drive to both eat and provide food for their young is very strong. Though our modern day dogs have no need to source their own meals, the instinct to respond to noises that sound like prey is very strongly embedded in them and yields a very primal response in our beloved pets. This instinct is more definitively evidenced in certain breeds whose original "job" involved hunting. Such breeds possess a strong drive to chase, hunt, and kill prey, and this is naturally worked out through the finding and "killing" of the squeaker. It provides a great sense of satisfaction to our dogs.
Since our dogs do experience great enjoyment from the sensation of biting down on a squeaker, it is a compelling motivator for repeat behavior. Both the sound and the feeling are enjoyable for the dog. Squeaky toys also provide great mental stimulation for our dogs. Working our dogs' brains is equally as important as maintaining healthy bodies. It is a safe outlet to fulfill natural hunting drive in a dog. But more than this, many dogs are more motivated by squeaky toys than they are by food rewards. This makes squeaky toys a great alternative to treats in training. Have trouble getting and keeping your dog's attention? Sometimes a squeaky toy can do the work nothing else can do. Treat them as a high-value reward. They can be an invaluable tool in helping to build drive in a dog involved in dog performance sports or even to help round up a yard escapee!
Encouraging the Behavior
When squeaky toys are completely dismantled, we are left with parts and pieces. To us, the toy has now been rendered useless, but for many dogs, this is just a new and different opportunity for play! The problem with this is the stuffing, plastic bits, and fabric remnants can be ingested by our dogs and later cause major intestinal blockages leading to expensive veterinary visits, surgeries, and in extreme cases, even death. To avoid these problems, clean up and dispose of any toy fragments right away and do not allow your dog to play with toys when you cannot be present to supervise. It is always preferable to err on the side of caution to avoid potential problems.